Home Inspection

Circuit Breakers

electric glennCircuit breakers are safety devices that shut off the electricity if there is trouble in a branch circuit. They are designed to protect wires from being overloaded and starting fires. They operate on temperature, building up enough heat until a circuit breaker trips. If a circuit breaker trips, you should let it cool, then flip it all the way off and back on again. Never flip the large breakers (30 Amps and above) off and on until you are sure that the air conditioning is not on. You could damage the air conditioning compressor if it is running.
Make sure each breaker is labeled for the area it covers and that the labels are correct. If you add circuit breakers in your electrical panel, you must also add arc circuit interrupters. This is safety devise that interrupts, stops the flow of electricity if it senses an arc in the panel. Always use a licensed electrician for such projects.

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Chimney Cap

A cracked cap allows water to penetrate the chimney causing premature deterioration and in northern climates, freeze/thaw damage.

Chimney Cap

The purpose of a chimney cap is to prevent water from penetrating the top of a masonry chimney. The chimney cap should not be confused with the rain caps which sometimes cover the tops of chimney flues to prevent rain water from running down the inside of the chimney. A chimney cap is usually constructed of concrete; however, some are stone or metal. A good quality cap normally overhangs the sides of the chimney at least one inch to provide some protection for the chimney from water dripping off the cap.

In many cases, a proper cap is not provided. Bricklayers often put a thin coat of mortar over the top of the chimney (exclusive of the flues, of course). With time, this thin layer of mortar cracks and eventually becomes loose. Examine your chimney cap using binoculars. If you see cracks or deterioration have it evaluated and/or repaired.

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Ceiling Fans


fanWinter is officially here. Stay warm and save energy with this easy tip: run your ceiling fans in reverse. Most people think of ceiling fans only when they want to be cool, but many of them have a switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Clockwise rotation makes it warmer by circulating air pooled near the ceiling back into the living space — potentially cutting heating costs by as much as 10 percent.

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Fire Safety

fireWorking Together for Home Fire Safety

More than 3,400 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 17,500 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It’s not a question of luck. It’s a matter of planning ahead.

Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm

Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Prevent Electrical Fires

Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.

Use Appliances Wisely

When using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.

Alternate Heaters

  • Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
  • Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers

When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

Plan Your Escape

Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.

Caring for Children

Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Caring for Older People

Every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.

Related Publications (Download, Help)

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CommodesEveryone knows the basic “dos and don’ts” of the commode: don’t flush any kind of paper other than toilet paper, if a commode starts to back up you can shut off the water by turning the knob at the back of the commode near the floor – righty tighty, lefty loosey.

There are a couple other things to keep an eye on, or an ear out for: see if you can rock the commode back and forth or front to back. If so, you should tighten down the bolts. There are typically two bolts fastening the commode to the floor, which are usually covered by plastic knobs. Do not tighten bolts too tight as you can crack the commode.

If your commode sounds like it is constantly running you might need to have a plumber replace the fill valve. You can also take the cover off the back of the commode and see if the refill tube goes down into the overflow tube – it should actually hang just above it. If that is not the case, you can try adjusting the ballcock or float cup lower and see if that fixes the problem.


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